123apps: Free Web Apps for a Multimedia Classroom

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In an increasingly digital world, students and educators find themselves dealing with multimedia files on a regular basis. This means creating them, editing them, and converting them are not uncommon tasks. Thankfully, there are free tools like the web apps from 123apps.com that can make things like this a whole lot easier. Here’s what you need to know.

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Spiral is 3 #Edtech Tools for the Price of None

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Recently, I came across an interesting website for teachers called Spiral. It has three collaborative tools that are completely free and aimed at 1:1 classrooms. The tools are web based, and work on laptops, Chromebooks, and mobile devices. Spiral integrates with Google Classroom and includes a full set of data tools to track student progress. Here’s a quick look at what each tool does, along with some ideas on how to get started using them.

1. Quickfire

As its name would suggest, the first tool is geared towards some fast data collection. The teacher creates a question for students, (ahead of time or on the fly), and students respond on their devices. The teacher can ask for text/typed responses, or they can choose the canvas option that lets students draw their answers on a whiteboard. Once all the answers are collected, the teacher can share any answer (anonymously) with the whole class in order to discuss it further as a group. Lesson data is saved to the teacher dashboard. Quickfire is perfect for lesson starters, topic reviews, checks for understanding and more.

2. Discuss

With Discuss, teachers can create an interactive slideshow that students can follow slide by slide on their own device. You can upload an existing PowerPoint or create your lesson from scratch with text, images and videos. Best of all, questions or tasks can be added to slides at different points in your lesson. It includes a back channel type option where students can reply and comment on peer ideas. Again, individual answers can be shared to the whole class by the teacher for further discussion, and all data is saved to the teacher dashboard area. Discuss is perfect for empowering quiet students, facilitating conversations around learning, brainstorming ideas on a given topic, or for synchronous online lessons.

3. Team Up

Lastly, Team Up is a group work tool that teachers can use to sort students into groups and have them work together in a collaborative space. Teachers can set a single task for the whole class or separate tasks for each group. While working in a Team Up space, students can collect ideas and build a presentation in much the same way that the teacher does in the Discuss app. Students can work on individual or shared devices to produce their final product. Team Up is perfect for facilitating collaboration and group projects.

See all the tools and register for your free teacher account at https://spiral.ac/

Help & Further Resources

Here are some resources to learn more about Spiral:

 

Flipboard Launches a Brand New Version for the Web

Flipboard for the web

Flipboard has long been a staple on mobile devices, but last week it expanded its reach even further to add a web version. So, if you don’t have access to your favorite mobile device, or you want a break from a small screen, you can quickly and easily access all your favorite articles online via a laptop or desktop computer.

To get started, simply head over to https://flipboard.com and log in with the same account you use on your mobile device. In the top left-hand corner you can choose from a navigation menu that includes Cover Stories, Following and Explore. In the top right-hand corner you will find a search menu, a notifications bell, and your profile icon.

flipboard on the web

The flip animation that takes you from article to article on a mobile device has been dropped for the web version, but otherwise it looks very familiar if you are used to using the iOS or Android apps. Some articles will open in a reader view, while others will open in a new tab and load the source website directly.

Hovering over an article with your cursor will reveal additional options like the ability to share the article via email, Facebook or Twitter. You can also flag articles as inappropriate, click the heart to “like on Flipboard”, and flip any article into one of your curated Flipboard magazines.

share flipboard from the web

Not all the features from the mobile apps make it to the web version of Flipboard, but the important ones are here and additional functionality will surely follow as the web platform matures. The important thing is that it is here, and that it makes Flipboard a truly multi-platform service. This is sure to broaden its overall appeal in homes, schools and businesses.

If you are a Zite user who has recently converted to Flipboard, or are looking for reasons why you should, make sure you read How To Switch from Zite to Flipboard for helpful hints and tips!

ABCya! Animation for Kids: Creative Stop Motion Movies for the Classroom

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If you are looking for a new way to inject some creativity into your digital storytelling, stop motion is a great way to do just that. ABCya! Animate is a website I learned about from Elizabeth McCarthy on Google+. It’s a free, and engaging web tool that lets students create an animated GIF from up to 100 frames of digitally drawn images, with no logins or accounts required.

The editor has a simple layout and is easy to use. You can draw with pens, brushes or the shape tool. You can also add text and clipart images from the library. When you have the first frame ready, click the “copy frame” button to duplicate it to slide two so that you can add a little more to your animation. Continue this process for up to 100 slides until you have the animation that you need.

abycya animate editor

There are three frame rates for your finished animation – slow, medium and fast – so you do have some control over the final effect. Clicking Export will walk you through the steps of how to save your animation as a GIF file. Wondering how to open a GIF? Almost all modern web browsers will open a GIF file so the student’s final project will be easy to share with others or add to a website.

ABCya! Animate is a Flash based tool. So, although it is great for Mac, PCs and Chromebooks, it will not work on a mobile device like an iPad. However, if you try this on a laptop and decide you would like to use this on an iPad you can check out the ABCya! Animate iPad app. It is available from the App Store for $1.99 and includes the same functionality that you get in the free web version.

I am a fan of Stop Motion movies for the classroom because they are an endlessly creative way to tell a story. Whether you do it as a PowerPoint presentation, a claymation movie, or an iPad animation combined with green screen effects, it is always a great medium that requires students to plan and think ahead to create an effective product. It is also ideal for group work and collaboration skills.

The Best Free Web Tools for Engaging Students in 1:1 Classrooms

This week, I had the opportunity to present at the Iowa 1:1 Institute. It is always a great event, and has long been known for having some of Iowa’s brightest and best educators in attendance. I did two presentations – Choose Your Own (Google) Adventure Stories, and the one you can see below.

I believe that every educator should have their own web toolbox of sites that they can turn to when they are looking to engage students in their classrooms. You can’t rely on the same one to do what you need in all scenarios, and your students will probably appreciate some variety from time to time, so I wanted to share some of my favorites and hopefully introduce a few new ones for teachers to take back to their classrooms.

However, it is important to note that these tools won’t change teaching and learning in your classroom. After all, they are just tools. They still need the right context, and without proper implementation within your classroom curriculum, they will do very little to invoke change by themselves.

The slides from the session are below. If you see something you like, feel free to share it with someone else who might benefit from using some of these great web tools in their classroom!